You’ve probably been hearing a lot about VR & how it’s the latest, greatest tech development since Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod. Never before have we experienced a technology that brings the storyteller’s dream of an immersive, interactive narrative so strongly to life. And what’s more: it is here to stay. We here at ECG are no strangers to this bleeding-edge video technology and have already been hard at work with some major brands and industry icons to bring the unparalleled engagement of the VR experience to their brand.
We are not the only ones taking notice, however. According to a recent report on Statista, the market for VR hardware and software is projected to jump from 2016’s $1.6 billion, to 2020’s $16.3 billion in yearly gross revenue.* And that’s just on content for the PC platform, y’all. This wild upwards trend is all driven by the growing awareness and popularity of VR, which, in turn, creates a clamor for content. And, like smoke to fire, where there’s content there will be marketing. Marketers worldwide are pining for this kind of content, throwing crazy amounts of cash at some productions just to get them off the ground.
But why, exactly, is that?
VR, marketing campaigns work for a reason
In many ways, VR-branded content is a marketers dream come true. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier piece, the goal of branded content is to connect on an emotional level and create a bond between consumer and brand. VR’s unique type of engagement is a major problem solver for marketers for a couple of reasons:
- Immersive: When you’re wearing a headset and everything else around you is completely blacked out, you can’t help but be totally enveloped in the experience and more focused on the message at hand.
- Innovative: VR is one of the big buzzwords in media right now (why else would I be blogging about it?), and people naturally are drawn to the newest attractions in town. Plus, all the great PR doesn’t hurt either.
- Impressive: That is, it leaves an impression. On top of being a novel experience, VR plays on the fact that our short-term memory is very spatially-oriented, and because VR “puts us on location,” we remember the content longer.
- Intense: First-person action heightens our emotional connection to the content, which is a major step to winning brand loyalty.
These “4-I’s” of VR branded content work in unison and the result is an experience unlike any other. VR sits smack dab at the intersection between the technological bleeding edge and the peak of entertainment and consumers can’t help but eat it up.
What are some good examples of VR branded content?
With VR being built in to almost every marketing campaign for major brands, there is plenty of VR branded content out there to go around. However, some examples just rise to the top, and truly exemplify what this new medium can offer:
- The New York Times – “Displaced”
Arguably the most moving piece of VR content to date, “Displaced” is a NYT-sponsored VR documentary centered around children whose homes have been destroyed by war. It’s not a light and breezy piece, by any means, but its hard-hitting subject matter and top-notch production garnered a ton of acclaim and, perhaps more importantly, exposure for the newspaper.
- Marriott – “The Teleporter”
It’s cool enough imagining being able to put on a headset and see exactly what a hotel and its lush grounds might look like, and a totally above and beyond experience to also feel it. In this campaign, Marriott toured a phone booth-like contraption–complete with Oculus Rifts, heaters, wind jets, etc.– around to 8 U.S. cities, allowing consumers to step inside and be “teleported” to another Marriott location. The 4D experience is a totally new experience that really underscores what VR is capable of doing.
These are just two exemplary cases where VR-branded content made a lasting impact on consumers, but they are far from the norm. VR is rapidly becoming a part of the media marketplace, and soon enough it’ll be part of our day-to-day lives. Knowing what works in this new medium and why will put your lightyears ahead of the market and help you bring that “wow” factor to your brand.